Tourism leaders honored with Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards

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Fargo, N.D. – Four Governor’s Travel and Tourism awards, recognizing outstanding leaders in North Dakota’s tourism industry, were presented today at the 2014 North Dakota Tourism Conference in Fargo.

“Tourism is one of North Dakota’s largest industries and an important contributor to our growing economy,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. “The leaders recognized today are key reasons why visitors enjoy legendary experiences when they come to North Dakota. Congratulations to this year’s award recipients, and thank you to all those who work hard to make North Dakota’s tourism industry so successful.”

Awards were given to:

Don & Pat Demars, Behind the Scenes Tourism Employees. More than 18 years ago, Don and Pat Demars retired from farming in the Cavalier area, trading in their tractors to become full-time RVers. Since then, this couple has served as campground hosts for the North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department for 15 years at nine different North Dakota state parks. In that time, they racked up nearly 10,000 hours of volunteer labor assisting park employees and doing an outstanding job welcoming guests and being great ambassadors of North Dakota. The Demars eventually sold their RV and made their permanent home in Grand Forks, but remain active volunteers at Turtle River State Park.

Mandan Rodeo Days Celebration, Event of the Year. The Mandan Rodeo Days Celebration marks its 135th anniversary this year. This three-day event, held around the July Fourth holiday, is rich in history and tradition, and is truly a family western experience. More than 25,000 people annually attend the Mandan Rodeo Days Celebration. The PRCA rodeo provides a taste of our state’s Western Culture, and the Celebration’s wide variety of events keep kids and adults entertained. Kids can enjoy dummy roping, stick horse racing, a doll and pet parade, covered wagon rides and the Mighty Thomas Carnival, just to name a few. The Art in the Park Festival, held July 3 and 4, features more than 135 art and crafts booth, along with approximately 30 food vendors. The three-day event concludes on July Fourth with a 170-unit parade, a 5K walk and run, a golf tournament, baseball games and a gigantic fireworks display after the July Fourth rodeo. The Rodeo Days Festival has received numerous awards both locally and nationally as well and has raised more than $40,000 over the last 3 years for the Wounded Warrior Charity. 

Gabriel Mejia, Staybridge Suites Hotel, Minot,Front-line Tourism Employee. As the front office manager at the Staybridge Suites in Minot, Meija is the first person guests come in contact with upon their arrival or when calling on the phone. His warm smile, quick wit and positive attitude immediately put them at ease. In addition to this, Meija’s legendary customer service is top notch. He regularly goes above and beyond to make guests feel comfortable, and has even made special accommodations for guests who needed special assistance. He is a true example of North Dakota hospitality at its finest.

Fort Buford State Historic Site/Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center, near Williston, Tourist Attraction of the Year. Located near the North Dakota-Montana border, this attraction is a great family destination with year-round offerings that draws people from all 50 states and 30 countries annually. Visitors can delve into history with on-site tours, History Alive presentations, permanent and temporary gallery exhibits, summer encampments, monthly concerts and more. The nearby walking paths along the river provide interpretation about the flora and fauna of the area. With the influx of people to the Williston area that now call North Dakota home, Fort Buford State Historic Site and the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center has been a great discovery for the state’s new residents. Not only does it give our new residents, visitors and long-time residents a glimpse into the state’s history, but it represents North Dakota’s superb quality of life. Fort Buford State Historic Site/Missouri River-Yellowstone Interpretive Center works closely with the Williston CVB, Fairview, Mont., Chamber of Commerce, other historic sites and state agencies to market itself. Because of its collaborative nature and strong product offering, its visitation numbers have been increasing every year since 2010.

“Our industry partners across North Dakota are an important part of the state’s tourism success,” Otte Coleman said. “Their passion for our state combined with our unique adventures is what makes visitors experiences legendary. We’re fortunate to have people in the tourism industry who go to work each day with enthusiasm.”

As one of North Dakota’s leading industries, tourism attracts visitors to more than 640 attractions, 357 events and festivals, and 850 lodging options. In addition, more than 33,000 jobs in North Dakota are attributed to this robust industry.

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